Caffeine, Anyone?

Never mind. Forget I asked. Caffeine is not optional at the moment. One of the lesser-commented-upon fallouts of the pandemic is the disappearance of caffeine-free Diet Pepsi® from my local grocery sources. And no, I haven’t checked on the availability of caffeine-free Diet Coke® because, well, Coke®.

And yes, I know that caffeine-free Diet Pepsi® is not exactly a healthy beverage, but for me it’s a little treat: a perfect blend of sweet and caustic and one I can indulge without fear of sleepless nights or jitteriness. And of course it’s absolutely necessary when eating pizza. (Don’t even go there.)

This curious gap on the shelves can’t be a supply-chain issue, with the production or distribution of “caffeine-free” somehow disrupted. After all, we’re talking about leaving out an ingredient, not adding one.

Or maybe I don’t understand how Pepsi® is manufactured. (Well, for sure I don’t understand, and I suspect I’d rather not.) Maybe Pepsi® is like coffee or black tea, whose caffeine is an integral component of the basic ingredient, requiring removal for the decaffeinated version. In that case, maybe the chemicals formerly used to decaffeinate colas are needed for something more important, like, oh, I don’t know, acid-washing jeans.

Or maybe it’s a simple oversight: Maybe someone just forgot to churn through the usual number of vats of the good stuff. In that case, let me just say that if you return the caffeine Diet Pepsi® to the shelf, I will return my knife to its sheath.

Or maybe the powers that be have simply decided that we need to stay alert — And awake all night! — during these unprecedented times, and directed suppliers and grocers accordingly.

Just shut down that production line, OK?
Just pull the decaf stuff off the shelf, would you?
Good job, buddy.

Whatever is causing it, I hope this pan-gap will resolve itself soon. Like, sooner, than the 18 months of pandemic they say we have left to enjoy.

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18 Responses to Caffeine, Anyone?

  1. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – I heard on the news this past week that there is a shortage of aluminium cans as a result of the pandemic That comment was offered as an explanation for why some canned beverages are in short supply on the shelves (gasp – including beer). Don’t know if that applies to Diet Pepsi.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Well, that could explain it. They might be directing cans to their major markets. Caffeine-free Diet Pepsi has to be a smaller market segment because of the two restrictions/variations from the original. I sure hope they’re not redirecting my cans to beer, though.

  2. Tom Watson says:

    This doesn’t directly deal with your caffeine issue…more about the cans.

    For the past year, any Coke cans sitting on my shelves leak for no apparent reason. Pinholes must occur because you can’t see any reason why they should leak. This doesn’t happen with Pepsi or Ginger Ale. I only keep Coke around because there are members of my family who prefer it.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – That’s weird, no question. I’d have thought that all colas were about the same, chemically, and it’s hard to see why one pop manufacturer would use crummier cans. Better switch to Pepsi when this is all done. Cleaning up pop is sticky work. 🙂

  3. Tom Watson says:

    It is sticky work. I am a Pepsi-lover from way back. Even more so since the Coke cans started busting.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Tom – I once stabbed a still-under-pressure plastic Pepsi bottle with a knife while trying to cut away those awful plastic rings. I was wiping up Pepsi spots for weeks, I think.

  4. Dorothy Warren says:

    I’m with you. We can’t find diet Coke with lime either. Thankfully it’s easier to add lime than take out caffeine

  5. Eric James Hrycyk says:

    How do feel about lead free gasoline….how do they take it out where does it go?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Eric – Oh, now, this one I know. They don’t have to get the lead out, as it were, they just have to not add it.

  6. Oddly enough, Caffeine-free Diet Pepsi is almost the only pop I drink. I hadn’t noticed the shortage, because I usually have one about once a year. Guess I won’t be on any picnics and won’t have any pop this year.

  7. According to sources here, the aluminum can shortage is affecting most canned beverages. The one grocery store where we usually shop is not the only one with bare shelves in the beverage aisle. The fanatic-in-chief drove to neighbouring towns only to find the same shortage. The Pepsi drinkers here have switched to iced tea when they cannot find 2-litre bottles of their favourite drink. I stock fruit juices, chocolate milk, and and occasionally glass-bottled sodas but I doubt those alternatives have killed their allegiance to their brand.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Yes, unsweetened iced tea made from decaf tea is an acceptable stopgap, although hardly a true substitute. My usual grocery store is not one of the humongous ones, so their stocking practices can be a bit haphazard. The first few times they were out I put it down to that. It was only when I tried elsewhere and also came up empty-handed that I realized there was more afoot.

  8. barbara carlson says:

    A chemist told me recently that all artificial sugars cannot be processed by the liver so it sets the stuff aside in cells where is does no good, just makes that cell fat. Just saying.

    My mother had her first coke (when it probably had cocaine in it) when she was 22. She said it took her all day to finish it, it was so sharp. But soon she was drinking 10-12 bottles a day. Addictive. Who knew?

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Oh, dear, that doesn’t sound good. The older I get, the more things are bad for me. In both senses. As for Coke being addictive, my mother had a friend who was addicted to Coke during WWII I think. Everyone saved their coupons for her, and bought whatever Coke they came across. Pretty tough.

      • barbara carlson says:

        My mother got diabetes. But 20 years later.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Yes, and lots of old people in my family had diabetes long before there were artificial sweeteners, so there are many paths to that point.

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